In April, I wrote about the case of a Marblehead grandmother arrested for drunk driving while taking her nine-year-old grandson to school. An update on the outcome of her case caught my attention because it reminded me, as a Massachusetts drunk driving defense attorney, of how people convicted of OUI can face vastly different penalties for the same crime.
Sharon Faulkner, 63, of Marblehead, was found guilty at a bench trial in Lynn District court of second-offense OUI and leaving the scene of an accident. She pleaded guilty to child endangerment while operating under the influence and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. For these charges, Faulkner will spend a full year in a state house of correction. She will serve half of that time toward the OUI charge’s sentence of two and a half years. The remaining two years are suspended with supervised probation, and during that time, she will not be permitted to drive. The other half of the sentence represents her sentence for child endangerment while operating under the influence. Faulkner is also required to undergo a 14-day inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program, along with random tests to ensure that she remains drug- and alcohol-free, as ordered by the judge. Her home will be equipped with a Sobrietor, a machine that allows probation officers to test by phone whether she is sober.
Read article: Marblehead grandmother faces a year behind bars
Compare Faulkner’s sentence to that of Jane Doe, about whom I wrote last year. Featherstone, like Faulkner, pleaded guilty in Gloucester District Court to second-offense DUI, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and child endangerment. But Featherstone emerged with a much lighter sentence: a two-year loss of license, a 90-day suspended sentence, two years of probation, court costs and completion of the alcohol education program. Featherstone was able to avoid jail time, even though state law requires at least thirty days to be served in jail for a second-offense OUI. Most likely, this was because if the first offense OUI conviction is at least ten years old, the judge can opt for the “24D” alternative disposition, or in Featherstone’s case, a combination of 24D penalties and regular penalties.
Faulkner’s earlier OUI offense was more than ten years old too. She may have been sentenced more harshly because her probation had already been revoked for failure to stay sober, but it’s striking that where one person can receive no jail time at all, another can be sentenced to serve a full year for similar charges. This case shows that Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer’s results can differ dramatically from case to case. Many things factor into the ultimate result that are not disclosed in newspaper articles. When looking to hire a Massachusetts drunk driving defense lawyer, make sure that if you are comparing results you do so with full knowledge of the facts and circumstances of each case. The published result does not necessarily show the quality of lawyering that a defendant received.
Massachusetts law sets out serious penalties for those convicted of a second DUI. In addition to those mentioned above, there are fines and fees ranging from more than $600 to more than $10,000; loss of driver’s license for two years, including at least one year without eligibility for a hardship license; and negative consequences for work, family and auto insurance rates. With so much to lose, drivers facing a second drunk driving charge should not delay in contacting a Massachusetts intoxicated driving defense attorney to help them.
Attorney Stephen Neyman has been defending drunk driving cases in Massachusetts for over twenty years. We have represented the accused in courts throughout the state and have achieved great results for our clients in drunk driving cases. If you have been charged with OUI in Boston or eastern Massachusetts, please contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman right away for a free consultation. You can call (617) 263-6800 or contact us online.